What Are The Pell Grant Eligibility Requirements?

by Phillip Guthrie

Before you get too excited about receiving a Pell Grant, you must be aware that you have to become eligible to get one first, and to do so you must take into account the various Pell Grant eligibility requirements. These requirements are fairly straight-forward, and you first must realize that they can be broken down into two major categories. The first category has to do with your ability to demonstrate the appropriate financial need for money to attend college. The second category consists of a list of Pell Grant requirements that you must satisfy if you want to become eligible for the Pell, and cover areas such as your U.S. citizenship, the degree program you are enrolled in, your criminal record, and other miscellaneous personal factors.

The first Pell Grant eligibility requirement that you must be aware of comes down to your ability to show that you need the money that would be provided from the Pell Grant to attend college. Your financial need for such funding is determined by the calculation of your EFC, or expected family contribution. This metric is supposed to be a true financial indicator of the amount of money your family is able to put towards your education related expenses, and is produced upon the completion of your FAFSA. The factors that play a crucial role in establishing your EFC include your parents’ income (and assets if you are a dependent), your income (and assets if you are an independent), the overall size of your family’s household, and the number of family members who are enrolled in postsecondary institutions. Other factors that play a role in determining your EFC include whether or not both parents work, your parents’ age, and whether or not their income taxes were paid for the previous year. The cutoff EFC threshold to become eligible for the Pell grant for the 2010-11 school year is set at 4,617, and if your EFC falls below this figure then you’ll have satisfied the first category of Pell Grant requirements.

The next branch of eligibility requirements consists of a listing of various qualifiers that you must satisfy if you want to gain a positive eligibility status for the Pell. It is important to go through these and make sure that you can pass each one if it is applicable to your situation, as not meeting even one of these criteria can make you ineligible for the Pell Grant for that school year.

-You must be able to show that you have a valid social security number.

-If you are a male and fall between the ages of 18 and 25, you must be registered with the Selective Service.

-You must be able to show proof of your U.S. citizenship, or be able to show proof that you are a U.S. national, or eligible non-citizen.

-Having either a high-school diploma, or GED is a must, and the only way around this is if you have been home-schooled, or have passed what is known as an “ability to benefit” test.

-The college you are attending must participate in the Pell Grant program, and you must be enrolled in an undergraduate, degree-oriented program and be making the appropriate satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school.

-You may not be eligible if you have served jail-time, or have a drug-related offense on your record, although this will depend heavily on the actual circumstances surrounding your conviction.

-You cannot already be on a full scholarship to receive the Pell Grant.

-If you have a Pell overpayment, or have defaulted on any sort of federal aid in the past, you may be ineligible to receive the Pell.

These are the most critical Pell Grant eligibility requirements that you must pay attention to, and if you can satisfy each where applicable, along with having an EFC that is lower than 4,617, there is a good chance that you’ll be able to qualify for some Pell Grant aid.

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